– Potential Military-Domestic Security Application for New Fiber Optic Cable Linking Cuba and Venezuela
Pictured above: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Munich Security Conference, on February 5, 2011.
On February 5, the US and Russian governments formally committed themselves to implementing the provisions of the New START treaty
. Under this agreement, Washington and Moscow, which together possess 95 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, will establish deployment ceilings of 1,550 strategic warheads in seven years, up to 30 percent lower than in the 2002 Moscow treaty.
Last December, Russia’s KGB-communist dictator, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, told CNN’s Larry King: “Russia will be forced to build up its nuclear forces if the United States does not ratify the New Strategic Arms Ratification Treaty. That’s not our choice. We don’t want that to happen. But this is not a threat on our part. We’ve been simply saying that this is what all of us expects to happen if we don’t agree on a joint effort there.”
The new START treaty is the keystone in US President Barack Hussein Obama’s starry-eyed plan for global nuclear disarmament. The US Left, which controls the White House, is engaged in serious wishful thinking on this point. The neo-Soviet regime has no more intention of complying with “New START” than with any other bilateral disarmament arrangement concocted in the past. The fact that the Russians are anxious for their “US partners” to ratify the deal should raise red flags (pun intended).
At the same time, behind the Kremlin’s smoke and mirrors, Russian rearmament continues apace. In October 2008, Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov announced plans to cut the number of officers from 355,000 to 150,000 by 2012. According to Serdyukov, son-in-law of Gazprom’s chairman, “ex”-communist Viktor Zubkov, the Russian armed forces were “top-heavy” with an abundance of senior officers with little appreciation for post-Soviet warfare tactics. He determined that the overall strength of the military must be reduced to one million, while the number of officers should be maintained at 15 percent.
Early this month, according to Interfax, Serdyukov suddenly reversed his military reform policy, explaining that by next year the number of officers will be increased by 70,000, from 150,000 to 220,000. A pay increase will be forthcoming for Russia’s military commanders too. Serdyukov did not offer any “plausible explanation” for this about-face in defense posture, nor did he clarify whether redundant officers will be reinstated or new ones recruited. The defense minister only told journalists: “A decision has been taken, because we are forming additional military units – creating an entire new military branch – the military-space defense.”
Last year, Russia’s top general, Nikolai Makarov, First Deputy Defense Minister and Chief of the General Staff, announced that the defense ministry will form a joint “air-space defense system” (VKO) in 2011. “To form an umbrella to defend the state anytime from ballistic and medium range missiles as well as sea-, land- and air-launched cruise missiles,” Makarov told Novosti on December 14, 2010.
The new VKO will merge existing antiaircraft guided missile units with existing and future ballistic missile defense assets. However, observes independent Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer, the new military formation “cannot possibly absorb” 70,000 additional officers this year or next. Apparently, only a small fraction of the additional officers will be serving in the new VKO. Serdyukov’s statement, therefore, was not a clarification, but an “arrogant rebuff of legitimate public concern.”
Felgenhauer notes, too, that Russia’s defense budget is typically cloaked in secrecy, approved by essentially one man–Putin—and rubber-stamped by the United Russia-dominated State Duma. The Russian military itself is experiencing a “severe manning crisis,” characterized by “virtually no quality NCO’s and little prospect to receive any soon.” Furthermore, conscript soldiers serve only for one year, are poorly trained and motivated, and their numbers are diminishing due to Russia’s demographic crisis, that is, a birth rate below replacement levels. Of course, this is a problem throughout Europe.
Meanwhile, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has adopted an aggressive stance on his country’s occupation of the South Kuril Islands, which Soviet troops invaded at the end of the Second World War. The island’s Japanese residents were expelled two years later. On February 9, during a meeting with defense and regional development ministers, Soviet Komsomol graduate Medvedev declared:
Everybody must understand that the South Kuril Islands are Russian territory. We will do everything we can to step up our strategic presence on the South Kuril Islands while developing friendly relations with our neighbors. There should be sufficient weaponry there to ensure the security of the islands as an unalienable part of Russia.
Medvedev visited the South Kurils last November. The conflicting claims over these islands north of Hokkaido are a sore spot in Moscow-Tokyo relations. The two countries are still technically at war since they signed no formal peace agreement in 1945.
Elsewhere in the Communist Bloc, on February 9, a long-awaited fiber optic cable linking Cuba and Venezuela reached the island, promising more and faster Internet and telephone service to the least “wired” country in the Western Hemisphere. Venezuela is financing the nearly 1,000-mile, 640-gigabyte-per-second, US$70 million cable, while the French company Alcatel-Lucent SA is actually laying the cable along the seafloor. The cable will be ready for use in July, explained Wilfredo Morales, president of Telecomunicaciones Gran Caribe, a joint venture between Cuba and Venezuela. It will also be extended to Jamaica.
The new telecommunication link between the communist states is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, freedom-loving Venezuelans–who are already deeply troubled by President Hugo Chavez’s close relationship with the Castro Bros., the presence of thousands of Cuban professionals in Venezuela, including in sensitive government, military, and security posts, and the communization of the Venezuelan economy–are not happy about the fiber optic cable.
“Cubans are all over the state immigration office, they’re all over [presidential palace] Miraflores, and the situation room,” complained Robert Bottome, editor of VenEconomia. He added: “We’re concerned about the increased communications between Cubans here, Cubans there and the Venezuelan people helping the Cubans. The access given to Cubans in Venezuela’s public institutions is alarming.” Enrique Marquez, a deputy from the opposition A New Era Party, opined: “It’s a useless investment for Venezuela. I haven’t seen a single benefit for the Venezuelan people in all of this. The only beneficiary is the Cuban regime.”
On the other hand, Cuban officials will no doubt carefully control the introduction of the Internet into their country. In 2007, spymaster Ramiro Valdez, now Cuba’s vice president and head of Venezuela’s energy commission, defended Havana’s restrictions on the Internet. Valdez declared that the Internet is the “wild colt of new technologies [which] can and must be controlled.”
Earlier this month, a video circulating online showed a Cuban interior ministry official warning his comrades that the government “must not cede cyberspace” to dissidents. “Technology by itself is not a threat. The threat is what someone who is behind the technology can do. They have their bloggers and we have our bloggers. We will fight to see who is stronger.”
Incidentally, this past Friday, Venezuela’s state-run telecommunications operator, Compania Anonima Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela, announced that it has finished laying a fiber-optic cable between the southern part of the country to northern Brazil. Earlier last week, both countries’ foreign ministers met in Caracas where they revealed plans to collaborate in agriculture and finance. Chavez and Brazil’s new president, “ex”-Marxist guerrilla Dilma Rousseff, are expected to meet during the first quarter of 2011.
Although Cuba and Venezuela have never held joint military exercises, the presence of Cuban military “advisers” in Venezuela has been discussed at this blog in past months. “Armored” fiber optic cable between the two countries could provide a secure communication link between the military commands in Havana and Caracas.
“Military-grade fiber optics,” advertises one manufacturer, Glenair, “are also known for their advanced tolerance to temperature extremes, immunity from electromagnetic interference and ease of integration into tested and qualified Mil-Spec interconnect cabling and connector packaging.” Another manufacturer, JEM Electronics, boasts: “With a stainless steel armored flexible tube inside the outer jacket and connectors, the rugged fiber optic cables come in 9/125, 50/125, and 62.5/125 micron sizes and custom lengths for harsh environments.”
It is not clear at this time if the new Cuban-Venezuelan fiber optic link is “military-grade,” or merely civilian in application. We can only watch as the Havana-Caracas Axis expands its operations. Since 99 percent of the world’s long-distance communications presently travel through fiber links, rather than satellite transmissions, signals interception in most cases can only take place by clandestinely tapping cables.
For its part, Russia’s Chelyabinsk-Khabarovsk fiber optic communication line, which is 10,000 kilometers long and features a minimum transmission rate of 120 gigabits per second, poses a “competitive match” for “traditional” submarine routes. In the future, operator Rostelecom plans to increase the rate to 4 terabits.